The fledgling science of global warming is fraught with simplistic solutions and competing political interests. Should a vegetarian economist be the world’s leading authority on global warming?
Environment editor,Juliette Jowit, of the Guardian has written that “the world’s leading authority on global warming, ” an economist who happens to be a vegetarian, has suggested that people should sacrifice by eating one meat-free day a week to tackle climate change.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wants to completely change human eating habits as well as bring about “other changes in lifestyle” including “reductions in every sector of the economy.”
“Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there . . .”
Meat production has been targeted because the U.N. has estimated that “meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
Cows emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which according to the UN, “is 23 times more effective as a global warming agent than carbon dioxide.”
The U.N.’s figures and assumptions have been disputed by the UK’s Food Climate Research Network and others in the meat production industry.
Graham Harvey, also of the Guardian, has written today that Pachauri’s argument is flawed.
"What matters is not the amount of meat we eat – but the way it's produced.”
Harvey presents a case against “the agribusiness companies who have hijacked it [meat production].” He targets grain traders, pesticide manufacturers and oil companies that are all making huge profits worldwide from the grain industry.
“Grain-growing depletes the soil of nutrients and releases huge amounts of soil carbon into the atmosphere, hastening climate change.”
On the other hand, Harvey argues, livestock grazing on fresh pasture or conserved grass would stabilize the environment rather than hasten climate change.
An article by Plenty “The world in Green, “ supports Harvey’s argument.
"In an excellent article posted at WorldChanging, Jay Walljasper writes about several innovative ranchers who are using holistic thinking to turn a potential greenhouse liability (methane-producing cattle) into something that can sequester carbon.”
Plenty also cites Carbon Farmers of America for farmers who want to use their grazing animals to sequester carbon.
Originally published in Digital Journal September 8, 2008